KANSAS CITY, MO. -- Greetings from the City of Fountains, where the Twins and Royals will open a three-game series tonight.
The Twins head into the series after a solid 7-1 win over Milwaukee on Thursday. Jose Berrios was excellent through six innings and the offense eventually came around to put the game away late. The only quibble might be the scoring opportunities they wasted in the early innings.
It also was their first game missing four starters - Byron Buxton, Luis Arraez, Josh Donaldson and Mitch Garver. Their offense and defense will be challenged for the next couple of weeks while these players recover.
Yes, I said weeks. Some players might return before others - Arraez could be in the lineup tonight - but Garver's return from an intercostal strain can't be rushed. In fact, a big reason why the club called up Ryan Jeffers is that he's going to be the No. 1 catcher until Garver is ready. They aren't very interested in bringing a top prospect over from the St. Paul camp to use as a reserve. That's why players like Alex Kirilloff, Trevor Larnach and Royce Lewis are still over there (that, and they would have to be placed on the 40-man).
Buxton's shoulder injury isn't considered to be serious, but I'm sure the Twins are saying that with their fingers crossed.
Donaldson is not on this road trip, so that tells you where he's at in his recovery from a sore right calf muscle.
Homer Bailey, for that matter, is not on the 10-game road trip either. If they were closer to recovering, they likely would be on the trip. Could they join the team mid-trip? Possibly. But the Twins have been nervous about putting their players on commercial flights.
So this is a big road trip. With Cleveland and Chicago surging, the Twins need to maintain their lead in the AL Central while down several players. The first seven games of this trip are against the pesky Royals and the surging Cleveland team.
It all begins tonight, when the Twins attempt to solve Danny Duffy, who held them to one earned run over five innings last Saturday in a 4-2 loss in the second game of a doubleheader. Jake Odorizzi will make his third start since recovering from a right intercostal strain. He got the win last Saturday against the Royals in game one, but needed 79 pitches over four innings. He'll be looking to be sharper tonight.
Twins lineup vs. LHP Danny Duffy
Marwin Gonzalez, 3B
Jake Cave, CF
Nelson Cruz, DH
Miguel Sano, 1B
Eddie Rosario, LF
Ildemaro Vargas, 2B
Ehire Adrianza, SS
Max Kepler, RF
Ryan Jeffers, C
Jake Odorizzi, RHP